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Wine of the Week

1999 Freie Weingartner Durnsteiner Kellerberg Riesling "Smaragd," Wachau, Austria

April 04, 2001|S. IRENE VIRBILA

The Wachau, a little more than an hour's drive from Vienna, is the darling of the wine world right now. Whites from the star producers of this tiny region, such as F.X. Pichler, Hirtzberger and Knoll, are hard to come by and-if you're lucky enough to ferret out a bottle-expensive. This grand cru Riesling is a bargain, though, and there's a good deal of it around.

Wachau Rieslings are crisp and bone dry with a strong thread of acidity and a marvelous mineral character; they go beautifully with food and are an especially good match with Asian and fusion cuisines. This terrific wine, from a great vintage, is very young yet. Give it some time in the glass and don't drink it icy cold. But what a wine!

Freie Weingrtner is a cooperative whose members own some of the best vineyard parcels in the Wachau. Under the direction of winemaker Fritz Meisbauer (and former director Willi Klinger), the winery has made remarkable strides in the last five years. Look for two other brilliant 1999s from Freie Weingrtner grand cru vineyards, Achleiten and Singerriedelin, more or less in the same price range.

About $27. Available at Wine House in West L.A. (800) 626-9463, Wine Exchange in Orange (800) 769-4639, and Woodland Hills Wine Co. in Woodland Hills (800) 678-9463. If you can't find the wine, have your local retailer call the importer, Vin Divino (773) 334-6700.

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